Pistons at Rockets Game Preview - Jan. 17, 2012
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Houston's offense is finding its rhythm and the Rockets are creeping back to .500.
Detroit's abysmal offense is one reason why the Pistons own one of the league's worst records.
The surging Rockets look to win a fourth straight game and get to the break-even mark Tuesday night against the lowly Pistons.
After averaging 94.2 points while losing seven of its first 10 games, Houston (6-7) is averaging 108.0 points during its three-game winning streak. The Rockets finished with their highest-scoring output of the season in Monday's 114-106 win over Washington with most of the damage coming inside.
Center Samuel Dalembert had 20 points and 6-foot-9 forward Luis Scola added 18 for Houston, which scored a season-best 54 points in the paint. The Rockets have scored at least 50 points in the paint in each of the last four games after failing to eclipse 44 in the first nine.
While Houston is starting to see more production from its post players, the offense still flows through Kevin Martin, who averages a team-best 17.9 points. He had 25 points and a career-high tying eight assists Monday after scoring a season-best 28 in Saturday's win over Portland.
"It's one of those deals where you've got to get comfortable out there," coach Kevin McHale said. "You've got to be able to feel that you can get rhythm inside the offense and the ball's going to come your way - it's a process."
It seems unlikely Detroit's scuffling offense will be able to keep up.
The Pistons (3-10) are averaging a league-worst 85.4 points and have yet to crack triple digits in scoring this season.
The offense couldn't come up with key baskets down the stretch in Sunday's 99-91 loss to Golden State, Detroit's seventh defeat in eight games. Greg Monroe had a team-high 25 points, but went scoreless in the final quarter and attempted only one shot.
"I think we've done a few things to shorten the moments where we lose our effort and we lose our energy," said Monroe, who is averaging 25.3 points in his last three games - 8.1 better than his team-leading average. "In the past few games, they've been shorter, but we've got to get rid of them completely. We're still getting those times when we aren't working hard, and it costs us."
The Pistons have also struggled on the road, going 1-5, and even their trip to Houston wasn't easy. Their charter flight reported problems with the hydraulics operating the aircraft's left-side landing gear and had to make an emergency landing in Houston. Team spokesman Kevin Grigg said everyone on the plane was OK.
The Rockets won't have to deal with many flights in the immediate future. They're opening a three-game homestand, and play seven of their next eight games at the Toyota Center, where they're 4-1.
"We've started to settle down," said Kyle Lowry, who is averaging 17.6 points. "We've got a nice homestand coming so we've got to get those games at home."
Opening this stretch with a game against Detroit should help. The Rockets, who swept the two-game series last season, have won five straight over the Pistons in Houston since a 78-70 loss on Nov. 18, 2005. They've won seven of the last nine meetings overall.